Tag: Rebecca Black

Oh Land, Lupe Fiasco, Guillemots / Making people dance and making people think don’t have to be mutually exclusive…

Making people dance and making people think don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Sometimes you can do both with a catchy beat and thoughtful lyrics. It’s the songwriters’ unicorn to craft a tune that’s catchy enough to ensnare a listener while being lyrical with such a quality that the song is not promptly dismissed. By now we’ve all heard Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” a song with all the characteristics of a successful pop track with absolutely zero substance. It’s fascinating, really, and I’ll admit I listened to that horrible track more times than I should’ve… for research, of course.

Here are a few of my recent favorite finds — artists that balance well the heavy and the high.

I’m absolutely loving Oh Land‘s debut self-titled second album (recommended by suki). Born Nanna Øland Fabricius from Copenhagen, her music exhibits all the eccentric characteristics that make me admire sounds from Scandinavia. Unlike more obscure stuff, Oh Land utilizes catchy melodies and driving percussiveness, which I’m happy to discover is actually a word. This isn’t surprising as Pharrell Williams is listed among the production credits.

It’s no surprise that I love hip hop. I recently purchased Lupe Fiasco‘s Lasers, an album that reminds me a lot of T.I.‘s Paper Trail in terms of celebratory anthems mixed in with more somber tracks featuring meaningful messages. His rhymes are seldom corny — an adjective that can describe at least several verses on even some of the best rap records — and the production on the record is strong. It’s a nice follow-up to Lupe’s previous albums, and it serves as a good replacement for T.I.’s somewhat mediocre recent release.

From the UK and the year 2006 comes Through the Windowpane by Guillemots (pronounced “gillimotts”), another recent discovery of mine via a recommendation through a beer-loving lady friend. What struck me most about them was their fully orchestrated sound — open, lush and ambient, it’s something I really resonate with. Their third studio album, Walk the Line, was recently released on the 18th of April. I’ll make an effort to check it out.

Is Rebecca Black’s “Friday” Actually Good?

The answer is no. A million times no. And the only reason one might suggest it has redeeming qualities is in pandering toward the corporate music machine. Case in point: Rolling Stone, the same publication that gave Avril Lavigne’s gag-worthy song “Alice” (from Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) three stars, recently published the article Why Rebecca Black’s Much-Mocked Viral Hit ‘Friday’ Is Actually Good:

For one thing, Black’s voice is totally bizarre. It’s not just the processing on her vocals – she has a peculiar tonality that inadvertently highlights the absurdity of boilerplate pop lyrics that may not seem as ridiculous if, say, Katy Perry was singing instead. When she sings the “Friday, Friday” hook or the “fun fun fun fun” refrain, she sounds unlike anything else in pop music. Perhaps the closest comparison is Laraine Newman in Saturday Night Live’s Coneheads sketches – pinched and stilted, like an alien attempting to pass an average American girl. Obviously, this isn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, but Black comes out sounding like a distinct singer with an alluring sort of anti-charisma.

What?!

I suppose one ought to credit her for highlighting the importance of cereal (breakfast is the meal of champions) or the profound dilemma of choosing which car seat to sit in — a metaphor for life, really, in which she chooses the back. Lazy.

I much preferred this quote from Salon:

Like any effective horror show, “Friday” seems innocuous — almost innocent — at first. But this is no mere off-brand Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato production. Somewhere around the second note of the eerily auto-tuned song — and its equally unlifelike video — it becomes clear that it’s possible to create something that’s an insult to Kidz Bop. With lyrics like, “Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday. Today is Friday, Friday. We we we so excited. Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes … afterwards” — delivered in Black’s dead-behind-the-eyes monotone, “Friday” will haunt your nightmares. Did I mention the tragic rap interlude, where a man with delusions of being Usher throws in a “Whooo!” and something about “passing a school bus”? I’ll leave the final verdict on the whole thing to my 7-year-old, a child whose penchant for eating ChapStik suggests she may not have the most discriminating of tastes, who declared of “Friday” that “This is the worst,” before stalking out of the room in disgust.

But remember how in “Alien” it was really scary because of the Alien, but in “Aliens” it was even scarier because there were a lot more Aliens? Here’s the ominous thing about Rebecca Black — she’s just the tip of a horrible iceberg called Ark Music Factory. With its roster built almost entirely of very young, trying-very-hard girls, the recently launched company from producers Patrice Wilson and Clarence Jey emits a distinctly “Toddlers and Tiaras: The Next Generation” vibe. What good can ever come of a company that uses comic sans for its artist profiles?

The only redeeming quality about this song is that it serves as a wake-up call for an industry far too out of touch with its artistic roots. Compare the feeling of watching the Grammy Awards to that of watching the Oscars. Or compare the nominees from this year’s Grammy Awards to those fifteen years prior: Katy Perry and Justin Bieber vs. Alanis and Pearl Jam. With the burgeoning indie scene and established artists leaving major labels, it’s getting harder and harder to find any relevancy in the system.

To have money spent on this lyrical nightmare while loads of hardworking artists go unnoticed is just a travesty. I dared the universe to find me something worse than Ke$ha and I was once again moded.